The battle for a place in the final phase of qualifying for the Korean Grand Prix raged to the end of the 15-minute second session, but ultimately no-one could break into the group established early on.
Nico Hulkenberg came closest to making the cut, but an off-track moment on his final flying lap cost him a promising time and the chance for another shot at moving up, while neither Kamui Kobayashi or Nick Heidfeld could improve enough for Sauber after leaving their fortunes in the hands of a single two-lap run right at the end of the 15-minute session.
Each of the seven victims was within a second of tenth-place qualifier Rubens Barrichello, with Hulkenberg, Kobayashi, Heidfeld, Adrian Sutil and Vitaly Petrov all within a couple of tenths. The Russian, however, committed another driving error by taking too much kerb and spinning wildly on his best lap, while Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi could not drag enough out of their Toro Rossos - still running without the team's take on the F-duct - to improve on 16th and 17th respectively.
Red Bull moved ominously to the top of the order, with Mark Webber pipping team-mate Sebastian Vettel by 0.035secs, as the slotted in ahead of an impressive Felipe Massa, with Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso rounding out the top five. Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button, Michael Schumacher, Robert Kubica and Rubens Barrichello also made the top ten shoot-out, although the Brazilian lodged a complaint about his former Ferrari team-mate, accusing Schumacher of blocking him during the second session.